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For the Relief of Unbearable Urges: Stories Paperback – March 21, 2000
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"Englander's voice is distinctly his own--daring, funny and exuberant." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times"Taut, edgy, sharply observed. . . . A revelation of the human condition." --The New York Times Book Review"Remarkable art. . . .The author fills each of these pieces with vivid life, with characters that jump off the page." --Newsday"Every so often there's a new voice that entirely revitalizes the story. . . . It's happening again with Nathan Englander, whose precise, funny, heartbreaking, well-controlled but never contrived stories open a window on a fascinating landscape we might never have known was there. It's the best story collection I've read in ages." --Ann Beattie"His characters are marvelously sympathetic creations. . . . What is most striking about the collection is not the subject matter but Englander's genius for telling a tale. . . . Invite[s] comparison to some of the best storytellers--Gogol, Singer, Kafka and even John Cheever." --Time Out New York
From the Inside Flap
One of the most stunning literary debuts of our time, these energized, irreverent, and deliciously inventive stories introduce an astonishing new talent.
In the collection's hilarious title story, a Hasidic man gets a special dispensation from his rabbi to see a prostitute. "The Wig" takes an aging wigmaker and makes her, for a single moment, beautiful. In "The Tumblers," Englander envisions a group of Polish Jews herded toward a train bound for the death camps and, in a deft, imaginative twist, turns them into acrobats tumbling out of harm's way.
For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is a work of startling authority and imagination--a book that is as wondrous and joyful as it is wrenchingly sad. It hearalds the arrival of a remarkable new storyteller.
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I don't know how funny these stories would be to someone who knows nothing about Yiddish-speaking Jews. But this goy loves all things about Yiddish-speaking Jews. Oy vey! And these stories have it all, including a story about Russian Jews on their way to concentration camps in Germany. Not funny, you say? Well, indeed not. Except...
I have no idea why anyone would rate this as low as a two or one star unless, of course, they lack a sense of humor, black humor.
although his stories are not light in mood, i found myself chuckling at some of the situations he creates, and almost weeping at
others. Although he is obviously profoundly disturbed by human nature as he sees it, at the same time, his writings often reveal
deep compassion for victims of suffering inflicted on them by the cruelties of others. somehow, his sense of humor is intertwined
in many of the situations that he creates, both those self-inflicted by his characters, and those where the characters are blameless
victims. also, his plots are very interesting, often with unexpected resolution. his writing style, with surprising twists and turns, and
(dark) are remarkable. his identity as a Jew - the history, the culture, the State of Israel, etc. - all play obvious roles in his
creations. i eagerly await more stories.